Ritual is strange—or so it seems to our rational minds—yet, strangely, for many of us who participate in these often highly stylized and repetitive actions, we feel better afterward. Why is this so? Is there a method to ritual’s madness that helps explain this phenomena? I think so.
In a departure from the usual Mormon Matters formula of a panel discussion, this episode features me, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, reading a short article I wrote for the Fall 2016 issue of Sunstone magazine, “Why Ritual ‘Makes Sense’.” In it I address various aspects of ritual and how, even though rites and practices can be extremely diverse in nature, they share key commonalities. Rituals, through their various means, attempt to help us access more fully the energies and their attendant empowerment for us that are all around us but often missed due to the strength of the sensory input from our bodies and the clutter of thoughts and concerns going through our brains. How do rituals help us do this? Why is it important for us to seek methods that can bring us into these kinds of experiences? Why do rituals, such as the LDS endowment, often feature retellings of a group’s cosmogonic myths (stories of how the world/cosmos came to be)? I offer clues to these and many other features of ritual and the effects of our participation.
I hope you’ll enjoy these ideas and this side trip away from the panel format. I promise, though, that we’ll be back to that with the next episode!
NOTE: Save the Dates! Natasha Helfer Parker and I will be hosting two Mormon Matters retreats in Utah this summer and fall. We will host the first 14–16 July, and the second, 20–22 October. Watch for descriptions and registration information very soon!
Dan Wotherspoon, “Why Ritual ‘Makes Sense’,” Sunstone, Fall 2016
Link to the Faith Matters Foundation website, where video of the conference “New Perspectives on Joseph Smith and Translation” will be available for download and viewing by 24 April 2017.